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Then & Now
A day in Ashram


Prasanthi wears Chinese Red…

Filial Piety in absolute quintessence...

"For the people of the West, coming to seek spirituality in India is nothing new. This has been going on for over a 100 years. But, never in the history of human civilization have we seen Africans coming to India seeking a Living God, Japanese coming to India seeking a Living God and never have thousands and thousands of Chinese flocked to India seeking a Living God. This is the first time in the history of the world that this phenomenon is taking place" was the voice heard during the first Chinese New Year celebrations in Prasanthi Nilayam. The spiritual enigma of this land of peace would be known from the list of civilisations filing past with reverance, in search of peace, in search of love…

At a time when ancient values cuddled in the rich Chinese Tradition and Culture started flagging resulting in sidelining the inner significance of the traditional festivity, the Chinese New Year has had its maiden voyage to the Land of Peace, Prasanthi Nilayam in the year 1997. More than 1500 devotees of Chinese origin from different parts of the world assembled to celebrate and pray…and their prayer was to guide them to impart their rich and great cultural heritage to the younger generation and for deeper insights into Chinese Tradition…

Responding to the Chinese plea, Bhagawan, in His Divine discourse, by going to the origin and route of the word “china” gave a new meaning to the tradition and civilisation saying that “china” means “my heart is my country”. Dwelling upon various subjects touching, boosting and thus elevating the culture and civilisation of chinese origin Bhagawan ended His enlightening Divine Discouse exhorting one and all to give up the bad accepting the good.

“When you go back to your country with good qualities, people will mark the change in you after your visit to Puttaparthi. Treat Prasanthi Nilayam as a spiritual workshop. No charges are levied here. Everything is free. I am ready. Make the best use of your stay here”, said Bhagawan during the occasion.

The Chinese New Year is the longest and most significant celebration in the Chinese calendar. Following the lunar calendar, each month in a Chinese New Year is beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month with the new moon and continue until the fifteenth day, when the moon is brightest. The 15th day of the New Year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade. This New Year is supposedly the 4705th in the order starting on 18th Feb 2007.

Filial Piety

Filial Piety is the cornerstone of Chinese Civilisation and Progress…says the hangings displayed at every nook and corner of Prasanthi Nilayam in connection with the Chinese New Year 2007.  The 'united' culture of human civilisation has one thing in common, notwithstanding differences in heritage, culture, language, country, race and religion etc., Thanksgiving, an offering of gratitude for all that was benevolently bestowed upon the humanity. Bhagawan has time and again touched upon the subject with greater insights, leading man to the cornerstone of his very existence. Matru Devo Bhava…Pitru Devo Bhava…Acharya Devo Bhava…Atiti Devo Bhava…(Revere Mother, Father, Preceptor and Teacher as God) exhorted Bhagawan guiding humanity to greater vistas of man’s inseperable existence with the Divine.

For the Chinese, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, an occasion to reunite and offer thanks to Heaven and Earth, the family deity and the ancestors, etc. Sacrifice to the ancestors, the most significant of all the rituals, would unite the living members with those who had passed away; departed relatives would be remembered with great respect as they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.

The presence of the ancestors would be acknowledged on New Year's Eve with a dinner arranged for them at the family banquet table. The spirits of the ancestors, together with the living, would celebrate the onset of the New Year as one great community. The communal feast called "surrounding the stove" or weilu. It symbolizes family unity and honours the past and present generations.

A Piggy Year

The advent of Chinese New Year has a unique link with animals. Every Chinese New Year is designated by one of the 12 animals. The twelve animals are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar. This New Year is a Piggy Year.

Fireworks and Family Feasts

During the New Year celebrations people wear red clothes decorated with poems on red paper and give children "lucky money" in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. The fireworks that shower the festivities are rooted in a similar ancient custom. Long ago, people in China would light bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits.

The Lantern Festival

The New Year celebrations end with the lantern festival on the fifteenth day of the month. The Lanterns would be works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend and history. People hang glowing lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the light of the full moon.

Symbolically reminiscing the Chinese Tradition, the early hours of 13th February 1997 Prasanthi Nilayam witnessed a Lantern Nagasankirtan, “…as many of the Chinese women were dressed in traditional red satin embroidered suits which shone in the light of the many, glowing red lanterns they were carrying, as they circumambulated the Ashram. They sang Sanskrit Bhajans until at last they reached the Mandap, when they burst into Chinese. Behind them came the men, many of them wearing traditional high collared suits of cream satin or brocade. Many onlookers were impressed by the vibrancy of the singing.” Dragon dance is the highlight of the Lantern Festival in many parts of the Chinese speaking coutries. The dragon that might stretch a hundred feet long is typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is held aloft by young men who dance as they guide the colourful beast through the streets. This appeasing entertainment has had its trail to Prasanthi Nilayam eversince the first Chinese New Year celebrations was held in Prasanthi Nilayam in 1997.

No tradition, no civilisation, no religion, no country…nothing that has ever been privileged by the Creator’s craftsmanship would be left wanting His touch… would ever be ignored…for, in Him lies the life of everything…The Chinese are indeed lucky to take the best out of Prasanthi Nilayam, to enhance the already rich tradition of yore, with a greater fillip.  Thus they flock to Prasanthi Nilayam with gratitude to the Greater Heaven...Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba ….Filial Piety in absolute quintessence.

Mr. Jagadeesan's Address during Chinese New Year 1997

Mr. Billy Fong's address during Chinese New Year 1997

Divine Discousre during Chinese New Year 1997